Meet a software developer

Published on August 25th, 2011
Meet a software developer

HIP2B² caught up with Dwayne Bailey to chat about his inspiring career…

I’m a programmer, better known in the industry as a localisation engineer.

What exactly do you do?
I make sure that technology can work in other languages. This might include: making a keyboard for Tshivenda characters, creating an isiZulu spell checker. Or preparing software so that it can be translated into another language by a software translator.

How I got here?
I studied engineering and computers. But mostly the path that lead to here was the belief that computers are very useful tools in the hands of all people. Since less then 10% of South African’s speak English at home, I wanted to make sure computers where adapted to help them.

Subjects needed to pursue a career in this field?
Computers or Maths. You need a strong analytical ability.
Languages. While you don’t need to do the actual translation, language will help you a lot. English is a must. At least one other language to ensure that you aren’t monolingual. The more languages from various language families, the better.

So, your job makes it possible for ordinary people to use a computer in their own language? That is so inspiring. What in your opinion is the best part of your job?
These are the things that make my job worthwhile.
1) Seeing someone explaining to another mother tongue speaker why they should use software in their own language. The best is when they are using software that I worked on to make their case.
2) Getting a thank you.
3) Seeing interviews with people who started businesses using software that I helped to translate.

What role do you think technology plays in everyday living?
We are surrounded by technology. I don’t think any of us can escape the reach of technology. That is why I think technology should be available in local (African) languages.

Are there things you are still curious about?
Curiosity keeps me inspired. I’m an engineer so I’m fascinated by solar energy. In winter I wonder why South African houses are so cold! While in a library I wonder how we can get more African language books on the shelves, get more people reading and writing in African languages.

What are favourite gadgets and websites? – to keep my open source geekness fed – for a capitalist view on the world
Kindle – its ugly but I love reading books on it
Macbook Air – I’m a recent owner and just love the fact that I can use my computer for at least 6 hours before I need to charge it.

You would recommend this field to someone who is…?
…a lover of language, wants their work to change the lives of real people.

What are your words to live by?
Life is short. Surround yourself with people who inspire you.

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